Tick Bites: Prevention + Safe Tick Removal


I can deal with childbirth, bodily fluids, and poop… however ticks? Ugh!

Fun truth (if there could be something enjoyable about ticks): they don’t chunk however they technically sting. Either manner, a tick bite can be very harmful.

Here are a number of the steps you’ll be able to take to stop contact with ticks, and what to do if one bites regardless of your greatest efforts to keep away from them.

Are Tick Bites Dangerous?

In a phrase, sure they are often.

Many of us are conscious of the seriousness and widespread epidemic of Lyme illness, which is now more common than breast cancer. While it’s attainable to contract Lyme in different methods, ticks are overwhelmingly accountable.

Other much less frequent tick-borne infectious ailments embody anaplasmosis, noticed fever rickettsiosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain noticed fever, Colorado tick fever, and others that trigger signs just like Lyme illness. Although these are uncommon compared to Lyme, they’re liable for a number of thousand circumstances of tick-related sickness within the US every year.

Lyme illness can probably trigger persistent fever, rash, complications, power joint ache and swelling, allergic reactions, and even critical and debilitating neurological problems. Lyme illness is particularly troubling since it’s typically troublesome to diagnose, as Dr. Jay Davidson explains in this podcast.

Where Are Ticks a Problem?

Cases of tick-borne illness are inclined to cluster across the northeastern United States, however in accordance with the Center for Disease Control no less than one case of tick-caused Lyme illness has occurred in each state.

The CDC continues to monitor the upward trend. Spokeperson Rebecca Eisen, a analysis biologist from the National Center for Infectious Diseases, explains:

Since the late 1990s, the variety of reported circumstances of Lyme illness within the United States has tripled and the variety of counties within the northeastern and higher Midwestern United States which might be thought of high-risk for Lyme illness has elevated by greater than 300%. One clarification for this pattern is that the ticks that may transmit Lyme illness have expanded their geographic vary and at the moment are being present in locations they weren’t seen 20 years in the past.

According the last statistical update from the CDC in 2016, the next states are thought of high-risk:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachussetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Maine, Vermont, and Pennsylvania have the very best incidence charge of Lyme circumstances. Data from 2013-2016 reveals about 50-80 circumstances per 100,000 individuals happen yearly in every of these states. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and elements of Michigan are additionally experiencing a rise in circumstances in recent times.

If you reside in considered one of these areas it’s essential to take proactive steps to scale back probabilities of tick bites, particularly within the spring and summer time when ticks are hatching and in search of their subsequent meal.

How to Check for Ticks

Engorged ticks are simpler to identify, however some ticks could be as small as a pin head. They like to cover in heat, moist, lined areas of the physique. First, bathe off to take away any unattached ticks. To do a tick test, completely undergo the hair and nape of the neck, feeling with the fingers. Here are another locations ticks like to cover out:

  • Behind arms
  • Behind the knees
  • In or across the ears
  • Belly button
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Rather than play naturalist, I’ll level you to the most effective tick identification instrument I’ve discovered. This handy chart with tick pictures allows you to filter by area, kind, levels of maturity, levels of feeding, and even by which ailments every tick kind may carry. The deer tick is the principle one to look out for, however not the one one which causes issues.

What to Do If You Find a Tick

I’ll always remember the day I leaned over to take a look at a darkish spot on the child’s head. Sure sufficient… it was A TICK feasting on her scalp. I’m simply going to fake like I saved my cool and knew precisely what to do on the time, nevertheless it couldn’t be farther from the reality…

A number of children later, I don’t like ticks any higher however I now know what to do after I see one. If you’re an skilled mother or have pets round you’ve in all probability been via this drill a number of instances earlier than, however if you happen to haven’t, right here’s what to do:

  1. Check to see if the tick is connected. If the tick is small, flat, and crawling round in your garments, pores and skin, the ground, and many others., this can be a good signal because the tick has not bitten anybody or fed not too long ago. If it’s massive with a full, spherical physique, that is extra worrisome as it might have fed and fallen off of a pet or person within the residence.
  2. If unattached, don’t attempt to kill it. If the tick is unattached, resist the urge to crush, burn, or in any other case destroy it. (It’s laborious, I do know.) Do not contact the tick together with your naked palms however use tweezers or tape to seize it. Put it in a sealed plastic bag or small jar within the freezer. This each kills the tick and preserves it for identification if signs of a tick chunk develop.
  3. If connected, right here’s what to do (and to not do): 

How NOT to Remove a Tick

There are loads of residence treatment options for tick removing, however these might do extra hurt than good. Burning the tick, placing important oils on it, or greasing it with Vaseline might sound inventive, however they will truly irritate the tick.

I don’t actually care a couple of tick’s emotions, but when the tick is irritated it could actually vomit the contents of its abdomen (pathogens included!) into the pores and skin. Exactly what we don’t need to occur!

For years the right tick removing code has stated to make use of a pair of pointed tweezers and pull it straight out. While this works plenty of the time, it could actually depart the mouth of the tick embedded within the pores and skin.

(Sidenote: I can’t let you know the variety of instances I’ve felt an invisible tick crawling on me whereas scripting this publish!)

What to Do Instead: Safe Tick Removal

Instead, use a tick removal device like this one. It resembles a spork that’s inserted between the tick and the pores and skin, then twisted gently till the tick releases. I hold one on my keychain throughout tick season.

Unlike the tweezer methodology, this system is more likely to lead to a clear removing. The prongs on both aspect assist be sure that the tick mouth doesn’t bend too far to the aspect and snap off whereas rotating.

If you don’t have a tick removing instrument, use tweezers however seize the tick as near the pinnacle/mouth as attainable.

How to Remove a Tick

  1. First, attempt to ignore the super-mom adrenaline pumping via your physique!
  2. Approach the tick from the aspect with system or tweezers.
  3. Slide the notched tick removing system beneath the bottom of the tick head and the pores and skin. If utilizing tweezers, apply them firmly as near the mouth/pores and skin as attainable.
  4. With a firm, slight lifting movement, gently spin the tick remover till the tick detaches itself. If utilizing tweezers, pull up firmly however constantly. Don’t jerk or twist.
  5. Put the tick in a sealed bag, mark it with the date, and put it within the freezer. This kills it and saves it for identification if signs come up.
  6.  Make certain that there are not any tick elements left embedded within the pores and skin. If there are, pulling it out with tweezers like a splinter or utilizing a drawing salve could be useful.
  7.  Wash the realm with cleaning soap and water and apply an antimicrobial to the realm. Diluted lavender or germ-fighting essential oil blend are each good choices.

Chances are all will likely be effectively if caught early and dealt with correctly, however right here’s what to search for:

Symptoms of Tick-Borne Illness

According to the CDC, attainable signs of a tick-borne sickness are:

  • a relapsing fever and chills (flu-like signs)
  • achy joints or muscle aches
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • a big round rash that appears like a bulls-eye across the chunk website (known as erythema migrans)

The bullseye rash doesn’t at all times happen, so it is very important test for different signs. For an entire checklist of signs, see the CDC’s website. Dr. Jay Davidson provides sore sternum (the bone over the breast) could also be one other signal of contracting Lyme.

If you think tick-related sickness, seek the advice of with a physician instantly as early intervention might assist. Dr. Davidson recommends taking Ledum palustre, a homeopathic remedy, as an alternative choice to antibiotics.

Tick Prevention Is the Best Cure (for Now)

The choices for battling ticks aren’t excellent (particularly if you happen to want to keep away from chemical substances, as I do), and I can solely hope we now have extra choices for controlling the Lyme outbreak on the horizon. Until then, listed below are a number of the steps we will take immediately to let our kids go adventuring without worry:

1. Tick-Proof Your Yard

It’s in all probability no shock that I don’t suggest the skilled chemical sprays for the yard, even within the title of decreasing ticks. While many firms tout this as “safe,” if it kills ticks, it in all probability isn’t good to your pets or children, not to mention the surroundings and different innocent bugs in your yard.

There are fairly a number of logical (and pure) steps to discourage ticks:

  • Keep the grass brief. Since ticks like dense, tall grass (all the higher to see you, my expensive…), mowing typically and conserving grass brief is half the battle.
  • Prune dense landscaping. Ticks favor damp shaded areas, so let as a lot pure daylight as attainable in by thinning overgrown areas of the yard.
  • Mulch with cedar chips. Studies present ticks and cedar oil don’t combine. Since ticks crawl and don’t fly, attempt mulching the perimeter of your yard with cedar chips or between your yard and tall grass to discourage them from crossing.
  • Get yard chickens! Besides offering contemporary eggs, they eat ticks!

2. Use Natural Bug Repellent

Although the EWG (Environmental Working Group) concludes DEET is a reasonably safe option at decrease concentrations, it’s not really useful for pregnant girl or youngsters below 6 months. There are additionally loads of research that time to attainable unwanted side effects from utilizing DEET and different repellents like permethrin, together with dizziness, complications, and even seizures.

While I definitely take ticks and the specter of Lyme illness significantly, I favor utilizing pure bug repellents particularly since research present important oils like citronella could be simply as efficient as DEET. My natural bug spray recipe makes use of a number of important oils proven in research to repel ticks: geranium, citronella, and lemon eucalyptus.

Natural bug repellent is particularly helpful (and proven effective) for repelling these tiny nymph ticks you’ll be able to’t see in a tick test.

3. Check for Ticks Daily

I do know, it’s not enjoyable, however with a bit of follow it turns into behavior. Put a full-length mirror within the rest room, and/or train children find out how to test themselves and one another. This is probably the most complete checklist I’ve discovered for how to conduct a complete tick check.

I do know it’s not straightforward to get children to cease what they’re doing and sit nonetheless, so we construct it into the routine earlier than lunch, dinner, and bedtime together with the wash palms/brush tooth step. This website has a free activity e-book for educating actually younger children find out how to test for ticks.

4. Practice Good Hiking Hygiene

Ticks love wooded areas or grassy areas, however I refuse to let ticks spoil our love for mountain climbing, tenting, and simply being open air in the summertime.

Be sensible when mountain climbing and observe the following pointers for avoiding ticks:

  • Wear light-colored clothes (so ticks are extra seen), with pants tucked into socks.
  • Stay on the paths to keep away from tick-infested areas.
  • Do a tick test earlier than getting within the automotive after a hike, or use a sticky lint curler on garments to catch smaller ticks.
  • Remove mountain climbing garments and put them instantly within the dryer for 10 minutes on excessive warmth to kill ticks.
  • Bathe or bathe as quickly as attainable after mountain climbing.

It makes for an odd household exercise, however we hold robes within the mudroom so we will strip off after mountain climbing, throw every little thing within the dryer, and head proper for the showers.

5. Protect Pets

Pets are additionally inclined to tick-borne ailments and it could actually typically be tougher to find a tick due to all that fur. Check canine and cats completely earlier than they arrive into the home and take away any ticks. You may attempt making use of a number of drops of geranium important oil round a canine’s collar, however don’t use this methodology (or any important oils) on cats.

Have you ever had a tick chunk? What did you do? Do you’ve gotten different concepts to stop them?

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